All build-operate-transfer (BOT) highways across Vietnam are scheduled to use electronic toll collection systems by the end of this year, but many seem set to fall short of the goal.
A toll station on Hanoi - Bac Giang Expressway
In 2017, the Government assigned the Ministry of Transport to run a project on automated non-stop toll collection at all the BOT highways it oversees.
The two-phased project aimed to deal with 77 toll stations and it was targeted that by the end of last year, all stations would use electronic toll collection (ETC). However, the deadline was missed.
Now, only 40 out of 44 toll stations in the first phase of the project have installed and used ETC. In the first phase, the project was implemented by Vietnam Electronic Toll Collection Company (VETC), dealing with 44 stations including 26 stations on National Highway No 1 and on part of HCM Highway in the Central Highlands region and another 18 stations on national highways and expressway across the country.
In the second phase, after opening the bidding, the Ministry of Transport chose Viettel and some other companies to implement the project which would deal with 33 stations.
According to the ministry, in the first phase of the project, VETC lacked funding to invest in ETC systems for toll stations. In the second phase, the difficulty was forming a joint venture company with agreement from all involved parties.
To solve the difficulty, Viettel and involved companies negotiated and agreed to form a joint venture company with 86 percent of its capital contributed by Viettel and the remaining 14 percent of its capital from partners.
Nguyen Viet Huy, vice head of the Public-Private Partnership Department under the Ministry of Transport, said the joint venture company led by Viettel was a necessary move allowing them to join the automated non-stop toll collection project.
“As Viettel is one of the leading information and technology companies in Vietnam, it’s reasonable to believe the non-stop toll collection project will meet its deadline this year,” he said./.
The warning about risks of funding BOT (build-operate-transfer) projects given two years ago is becoming a reality.
Vietnam has closed its doors to international investors joining the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway initiative, catering to domestic groups only.